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Robert O. Marshall


Robert O. Marshall

Robert Oakley Marshall (born December 16, 1939) is a former Toms River, New Jersey, businessman who in 1984 was charged with (and later convicted of) the contract killing of his wife, Maria.

The case attracted the attention of true crime author Joe McGinniss, whose bestselling book on the Marshall case, Blind Faith, was published in 1989. Blind Faith was adapted into an Emmy-nominated 1990 TV miniseries starring Robert Urich and Joanna Kerns.

In 2002, Marshall wrote the book Tunnel Vision: Trial & Error, in which he challenged the conclusions McGinniss drew in Blind Faith. While pointing out flaws in the judicial process he believed failed him, Marshall also alleged that his trial was contaminated by police misconduct and compromised testimony and evidence.


  • Incident 1
  • Trial 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


On the night of September 7, 1984, Robert O. Marshall, an insurance broker and chairman of the Ocean County Chapter of the United Way fund, and his wife, Maria, were traveling north on the Garden State Parkway from Harrah's in Atlantic City when, according to Robert Marshall, he felt a vibration in one of the tires. Marshall claimed that when he and his wife pulled over at the Oyster Creek picnic area in Lacey Township (which was closed at the time), he noticed the right rear tire was flat. [1] He alleged that he was then knocked unconscious by a blow to the back of his head, and approximately $15,000 worth of casino winnings was stolen.[2] He alleged that he found his wife with two gunshot wounds, dead across the front seat.[3]

After a police investigation, Marshall was arrested on December 19, 1984. The prosecution theorized that Marshall had hired two men to kill his wife so that he could collect on a $1.5 million insurance policy. He was convicted of the murder-for-hire and sentenced to death by lethal injection. Also arrested were 47-year-old Robert Cumber of Bossier City, Louisiana, 49-year-old James Davis of Shreveport, Louisiana and 42-year-old Billy Wayne McKinnon of Greenwood, Louisiana, who was a former Caddo Parish, Louisiana deputy officer.[4]


During the six-week trial, Marshall revealed that he was planning to leave his wife and had hired a private investigator to determine if Maria was consulting with a divorce lawyer, and to determine the whereabouts of over $15,000 of missing casino winnings. Marshall was involved in a 14-month affair with Saraan Kraushaar, a vice-principal at Pinelands Regional High School in Tuckerton, whom he told he wanted to "get rid of" his wife to use her insurance money to pay off his debt.[5]

U.S. District Court Judge Joseph E. Irenas ruled on April 8, 2004 in Camden, New Jersey that Marshall received ineffective assistance from his attorney during the death penalty phase of his trial. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision on November 2, 2005. On March 20, 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by the New Jersey Attorney General's Office. On May 12, 2006, Prosecutor Thomas F. Kelaher declined to retry the death-penalty phase of the case, citing as reasons the difficulty in presenting evidence more than 20 years after the crime, and the probability of many more legal appeals should Marshall be sentenced to death again. With resentencing pending, Marshall faced a minimum of 30 years in prison (in which case he would have been released in 2014) and a maximum of life in prison with no possibility for release on parole before serving 30 years.

On August 18, 2006, Marshall was resentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole in eight years. This will make Marshall, incarcerated since his arrest, eligible for parole in 2014. Until his removal from New Jersey’s death row, Marshall had been the longest-serving inmate there since the state reinstated the death penalty in 1982.

See also


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External links

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